Rainbows are everywhere in design and marketing - but a new campaign from Nissan celebrates the rainbow’s haunting and more elusive cousin, the moonbow. They’re caused when light from the moon is refracted through droplets of water in the air… and most of us will never see one.
That rarity and sense of elegant magic is the inspiration behind a new colour created by INFINITI, Nissan’s luxury arm as it launches its new model, the SUV QX60. Moonbow Blue blends blue, grey, lilac and magenta to create a subtle representation of the phenomenon.
Of course, that rarity also means the launch campaign had to somehow convey the experience of the moonbow to an audience who are largely unaware. That’s why Publicis Q in Tokyo has teamed up with Ouchh Studio in Istanbul to create a generative, immersive artwork.
‘Project Moonshot’ brings together data from the heavens, sourced from international space research organisations to create shifting generative artworks. Erick Rosa, chief creative officer atPublicis Groupe Japan and Nishant Shah, global creative director at Publicis Q Japan talk to LBB’s Laura Swinton about bringing this astral art to life.
LBB> As creative people, the brief to create something for the Moonbow colour must have been a real gift! What were your initial thoughts and reaction when you saw what Nissan was working on?
Nishant> Product insights are always great fodder for creative foraging. And with something like Moonbow Blue, it was always going to be a fun challenge – to create a spectacle that lives up to the natural phenomenon it was inspired by.
LBB> At what stage in the development and launch did you get on board? Was the Moonbow name already in play or was it something you helped come up with?
Nishant> Moonbow Blue was a proprietary colour INFINITI developed for their new QX60.
In the early stages of the car launch, we probed for inspiring design stories that are often left untold. Spending time with the design team gave us an insight into the amount of love and labour that went into creating this disruptive colour.
LBB> What is it about the Moonbow as a phenomenon and visual motif that you think will resonate with drivers?
Nishant> The reality is that most people have never even heard of a Moonbow. But nature is a big part of Japan’s art and design heritage, and with Moonbow Blue, our consumers will have a chance to drive a beautifully designed car – the QX60 – that celebrates this natural phenomenon so elusive to everyone.
In short, for the driver, it is like seeing and driving a moonbow on wheels.
LBB> The colour itself is incredibly subtle, deep, and delicate - how did that inspire your approach to the launch campaign?
Nishant> The making of the colour is incredibly nuanced. The proportions of pigments mixed to create this dynamic colour that is never the same inspired us to look at a design story that is ever-evolving.
LBB> Why did you decide to create an interactive experience? And what sort of emotions did you want to trigger with the experience?
Nishant> Most of humankind will never experience a Moonbow in their lifetime. To bring this elusive phenomenon to life, we needed to create an artistic interpretation that allows people to enjoy the art, while interacting with aspects of nature that make it possible – the light from the sun, the colour from the moon and the way starlight travels in space. We wanted to inspire awe and appreciation towards nature and art.
LBB> The experience uses millions of years of data - where did the data come from and how did you go about transforming that data into art?
Nishant> To recreate this cosmic phenomenon, we looked at astral data. Solar, lunar, and stellar notations collected over millions of years by space research organisations like NASA, NOAA, Kaggle and Earth Observatory.
Each data set informed an aspect of the digital art.
Data from the sun inspired the light and shadow.
Data from the moon inspired the colour dynamism.
And finally, data from the starlight influenced the motion.
LBB> You must have learned so much about astronomy from this project, working with so much moon data - did anything surprise you?
Nishant> The best part about advertising is you learn something new every day. And playing with so much data was in equal parts daunting and delightful. It was fascinating to see how ethereal our universe is. Everything is constantly changing and is never the same twice. This is what we’ve tried to capture in this design experiment.
LBB> What were the trickiest technical challenges you had to address and how did you navigate them?
Erick> Apart from finding the right data sources, interpreting their use and function in Houdini was tricky because of the sheer volume of data we were playing with. To arrive at the 16 design pieces, we had to go through hundreds of test and learn cycles.
LBB> And from a creative perspective, what were the most interesting creative conversations or debates that came up over the course of the creative process?
Eric> ‘Project Moonshot’ was, like the name suggests, a bit of a moonshot.
We were never sure what this would become eventually. Through the nearly 10 months of work on the project, we were faced with many creative conundrums – should the art be static or motion? Should it have a familiar form or abstract? Should we overlay it on the car or not? Can we use a single data source or multiple?
The answer to most of these questions lay in staying as close as possible to the inspiration – the Moonbow itself.
LBB> Why were Ouchhh Studios the perfect partners on this and what did they bring to the table?
Nishant> Ouchhh Studios are a big reason for our success.
For a moonshot project like this, with an undefined outcome, we needed partners who were in for the long ride. No matter the challenge, they never gave up. They were more than just digital artists; Ferdi Alici and his team are the curious nerds our industry truly needs. People who love asking questions and answering them through a meticulous process of experimentation.
LBB> The experience will live in Nissan's Japanese headquarters but I believe will also tour to other markets, car shows etc. - do you know what other markets it will be available in?
Erick> The plan is to make these art pieces available to every key market and to INFINITI dealerships in the US, Canada, GCC, Mexico and China. We wish to make immersive design stories a part of the INFINITI consumer experience.
LBB> Aside from the experience, what are the other key elements of the launch campaign?
Erick> Aside from the launch experience in Zama Studio, Japan, we also invited global audiences to learn about the story and enjoy the design pieces on digital and social platforms.
LBB> And personally, what is your favourite element of the experience?
Erick> The best element of the experience is how it is never the same. Just like the colour itself. Ethereal, ever-evolving, like our cosmos. A design story of a car that momentarily transports you into a realm far greater than ours.